Grower from the Philippines, Rosalie Ellasus, shared with us why she is a “living advocate for agriculture biotechnology” and actively helps other farmers with their ag biotech production. Coming from the Philippines, the first country in Asia to use biotech crops for food and approve them for commercialization, Ellasus tells us that ag biotech improved her standard living, allowing her to live a different life and send her three sons to college.
• By 2005, the U.S. was the world’s biggest grower of biotech crops with more than half. It’s thought that global farming would have been $5 billion less without these crops. The biggest gains have been in soybeans and cotton. However, corn boosted farm income by more than $3 billion in 2005.
• Thanks in part to ag biotech, it takes 40% less land and 50% less energy to produce a bushel of corn than it did in 1987.
• Farmers grow five times as much corn as they did in the 1930s — on 20 percent less land.
• Reduced tillage and other farm management practices have reduced soil erosion 43% in 20 years.
• A farmer can save as much as 3.5 gallons of fuel an acre from no-till farming, which is possible with some biotech crops.
• The Federal Bureau of Labor statistics say that most farms employ only the farmer and perhaps a family member or a hired hand or two.
• The US produces enough corn that we can afford to export one in every five rows of corn each year and still have enough for domestic needs.
• Individuals or families own 82% of American corn farms. Another 6% are family held corporations; 11% are owned by partnerships; and the remaining handful — less than 4,000 — are owned by other types of corporations or estates, trusts and institutions.
• The average corn farm has fewer than 250 acres. Only 8% are bigger than 2,000 acres according to government statistics.
Recommended reading: A piece on Forbes.com by farmer Maria Gabriela Cruz. While President Obama is meeting with leaders and citizens in Europe, Cruz reminds Europeans of Obama’s support for ag bio. From the campaign trail last year Obama said, “Advances in the genetic engineering of plants have provided enormous benefits to American farmers. I believe that we can continue to modify plants safely with new genetic methods, abetted by stringent tests for environmental and health effects and by stronger regulatory oversight guided by the best available scientific advice.”